Muhammad Farrukhsiyar


Muhammad Farrukhsiyar was the grandson of Bahadur Shah I, and the son of Azim-ush-Shan. Farrukhsiyar succeeded the throne on June 11, 1713, at the age of 30 with the aid of the two Saiyid brothers. He was extremely handsome but utterly weak ruler who was swayed by his advisors. He lacked the ability and character to rule independently. With his reign began the ascendancy of the Saiyid brothers who monopolized all power of the state and reduced the Emperor to a figurehead. Saiyid Huseyn Ali became Wazir or Prime Minister while the other brother, Abdullah, became Commander-in-Chief of the army. Because of their influence, they came to be known as kingmakers.

Farrukhsiyar felt the supremacy of the Saiyid brothers as irksome and never ceased to plot against their overthrow. However, no plot could be ever executed, but the imperial internal strife had a very ill effect on administration of the empire. Taking advantage of the situation, the Rajputs, the Jats, and the Sikhs started creating panic. Farrukhsiyar was successful in his campaign against the Sikhs and executed Banda Bahadur in 1716, and recovered Lohagar from the Sikhs. It was during Farrukhsiyar’s reign in 1717 that the East India Company bought duty-free trading rights in Bengal for a mere 3,000 rupees. This favor aided the British in later years to establish a firm foothold in India.

The constant plotting eventually led the Saiyid brothers to depose the Emperor. Farrukhsiyar was imprisoned, starved, blinded and finally strangled to death in 1719.The Saiyid brothers, even after deposing Farrukhsiyar, continued to play the role of kingmakers and placed on the throne Rafi-ul-Darajat who lived as a captive of the Saiyid brothers. He was later disposed and replaced by his elder brother, Rafi-ud-Daula. After the death of Rafi-ud-Daula, Saiyid brothers appointed Muhammad Shah, the grandson of Bahadur Shah I, as the next emperor.

This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003